We are writing prospect reports on players the White Sox might select in the June draft. This article is the third in our series. You can see the other reports we’ve already posted, here:
School: Texas Christian University
Date of Birth: February 5, 1998
Previously Drafted: 1st round (41st), 2016, Pittsburgh Pirates
The other day, Chicago White Sox amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler mentioned to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin that the White Sox are looking at one pitcher with the #3 overall selection in the 2019 MLB Draft. It is very likely that Nick Lodolo, the consensus #1 college pitcher in the draft, is that arm.
Lodolo, a lefty out of Texas Christian University, features a fastball that ranges from 90-96 MPH, but generally sits at 92-95 MPH. His secondary pitches include a slider and changeup, each with decent break. Lodolo once threw a curveball but struggled with command and has removed it from his arsenal for the time being.
MLB Pipeline’s assessment of Lodolo is encouraging:
The highest unsigned pick from the 2016 Draft, Lodolo spurned the Pirates as a supplemental first-rounder (No. 41 overall) from a California high school. He immediately stepped into Texas Christian’s rotation as a freshman but was somewhat of an enigma in his first two college seasons because his performances were more respectable than dominant. After showing more consistency and confidence this spring, he could be the first college pitcher drafted and beat out Lance Broadway (No. 15 overall in 2005) as the highest pick in Horned Frogs history.
Lodolo has a long, lean body that could add more strength and an easy delivery. He’s doing a better job of maintaining his three-quarters arm slot, resulting in improved control and command. He’s also pitching with more confidence, attacking hitters and realizing the potential Pittsburgh saw in him three years ago.
Baseball America lauds Lodolo’s high floor and notes that he still has more projection:
Lodolo’s stuff isn’t quite as loud as the typical top college starter of a draft class, but he is a high-probability major leaguer with above-average control of three pitches that are current average offerings but could be plus pitches in the future. He still has more projection than the typical three-year collegiate arm thanks to a lean body that can add more weight, and he was one of the best performers in the country through his first seven starts of the season before hitting a slight speed bump in April.
As of May 23rd, Lodolo’s 2019 season has been tremendous. The southpaw has logged 98 innings pitched and has collected 125 strikeouts to just 21 walks. His ability to repeat his mechanics contribute to his high floor as an MLB caliber starting pitcher and his projectable frame suggests that his ceiling may be higher than some anticipate.
Scouting Grades and Videos:
Video Courtesy of Prospect Pipeline
TCU vs Houston courtesy of 2080 Baseball
High School video from Prospect Pipeline
Risk is always abundant with college pitchers, especially with respect to health. In many cases, future pitcher health is more of a guessing game than it is a science. For Lodolo, all we can really critique is his arsenal and his mechanics. His strengths are that there are not many things he does poorly. He has the potential to offer three plus pitches and does not have any red flags when it comes to control. On the other hand, Lodolo has not yet found that one putaway pitch that some first round college starters have featured over the years. He won’t blow you away with a triple digit fastball or a gif-worthy slider, but none of his pitches are particularly begging for improvement either. If he does not develop to the point where he reaches his ceiling, a healthy Lodolo could still be a solid MLB starter who features few weaknesses but few major strengths.
There is hope for Lodolo’s ceiling, since his projectable frame and repeatable mechanics suggest that he may exceed current expectations. As he currently does not have many true weaknesses, aside from the lack of a legitimate putaway pitch, it is very possible that he continues to grow and adds more velocity to his fastball. We could eventually see it sit closer to the top of his current range, which maxes out at 96 MPH. Additionally, Lodolo’s slider has improved over the years and has the potential to become a premier strikeout pitch if it develops ideally.
If the White Sox do draft a pitcher, it will very likely be Nick Lodolo. However, at this point, it seems much more likely that the White Sox draft one of C.J. Abrams, Andrew Vaughn, or even Adley Rutschman. Nevertheless, the draft is full of surprises, and as the clear-cut best college pitcher in the draft, Lodolo may be selected earlier than the mock drafts anticipate. The team that drafts this southpaw will be pleased to receive a pitcher that, if healthy, is relatively polished and still has room to grow.
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